10 Common Niacin Deficiencies, Causes, Treatments, Diagnosis And Recommended Daily Allowance

Vitamins are important for the body system to function the way it should. Deficiency of any vitamin can lead to hazardous health problems.

So getting enough of this vitamin is essential for everyone in order to avoid health problems that could be life threatening.

Niacin deficiency occurs when your body is unable to get enough or it simply cannot absorb this vital vitamin or tryptophan. It’s also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid is one of the eight B Vitamins and it plays a vital role in the body.

Niacin plays its own role in converting carbohydrates into glucose, keeping the nervous system functioning, and metabolizing fats and protein.

It also assists the body to make stress and sex related hormones. It improves circulation and cholesterol levels in the body.

So you see why your body needs Niacin to function properly.

Dietary deficiency of this vitamin is very unlikely to occur in people who live in developed countries because most food products are fortified with it.

What Causes Niacin Deficiency in People?

Deficiency of this vitamin is very rare in developed countries because people who live there get enough niacin from their diet.

Deficiency of Niacin can be caused by alcoholism, cirrhosis and diarrhea. Long term use of tuberculosis drug – isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid) – can also lead to deficiency of this vital vitamin. Read major benefits of niacin here.

10 Common Deficiencies of this vital vitamin

Niacin plays a role in numerous metabolic processes within your body; so deficiency in it or reduced levels can cause hazards to your health.

Identifying the symptoms of deficiency of this vitamin would help you to treat any medical condition that may arise from it.

Below are some of the deficiencies that tend to occur when you lack or do not have enough of this nutritional vitamin in your body.

  • Lesion on your skin

If you recently started having lesion on your body especially on the skin, chances are you are deficient in this Vitamin.

The lesions appear more visible on places that experience more pressure. Your skin is at greater risk if it is often exposed to the sun.

How lesions are distributed on the body is more important for identifying the deficiency of Niacin than the shape of the lesions.

If the hands are affected and the lesions take the shape of a hand glove, it is called pellagrous glove . If the legs and feet are affected and the lesions look like a boot, it is called pellagrous boot .

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Mucous membrane swelling

Mucous membrane swelling affects your mouth, vagina and your urethra tongue and can cause pain in the mouth, increased production of saliva, ulcers and edema of the tongue.

When you get such symptoms, you are advised to seek proper medication from health experts immediately.

  • Central Nervous System Problems

If you don’t get enough Vitamin B from your diet, your central nervous system is at risk….

…lack of, or insufficient amount of vitamin B3 in your body exposes your body to central nervous problems like memory impairment, depression or anxiety, paranoia and confusion.

Make sure you visit see a physician once you begin to see these symptoms.

  • Pellagra

Pellagra is a chronic deficiency of Niacin. It occurs when lacking this vital vitamin becomes severe. In some cases, pellagra occurs when tryptophan converts into niacin in a defective way in your body.

This serious condition is mainly caused by erythema, nervous disorder and gastrointestinal trouble. Pellagra is also characterized by diarrhea or dermatitis.

Pellagra can makes you to become depressed and your muscles become weak: this condition is known as neurasthenia.

Pellagra can also occur when your body has adequate amount of niacin, but its absorption and processing is inhibited by;

  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Liver diseases like cirrhosis
  • Metabolic disorder such as the hart up disease
  • Tumors

Symptoms of pellagra affect the skin, gastrointestinal and central nervous system.

If you have pellagra, you’ll notice these;

  • Reddish skin and development of scales on the skin,
  • Skin rash with a clear distinction between the affected and the unaffected parts,
  • There may be itching or burning sensation due to the rash on the skin.

You could suffer from neurological impairment if you have pellagra. The early symptoms of neurological imbalance include the feeling of apathy and slight depression.

It is possible for you to feel headache, restlessness, psychosis, anxiety, and delusions too. Pellagra can lead to weakness and death if it goes unattended to.

  • Weak Metabolism

If you are deficient in Niacin, your metabolism will be weak. Weak metabolism and immunity causes feeble defense against attack of virus in the body. If your immune system is weak, you will catch cold and flu very often.

  • Skin Problems

Lack of, or inadequate amount of Niacin in the body can lead to various skin disorders like inflammation of skin, itchy skin and scaly or cracked skin.

In severe cases, it can lead to swelling and blisters on your skin. The blisters may also bleed.

The bleeding from the blisters leads to black crusts on the surface of the skin. The crusts slowly change into thick pigmentation. This mainly develops on the backside of the hand.

  • Psychiatric Problems

It causes psychiatric troubles like apathy,anxiety, irritability and lack of concentration.

Sometimes, it triggers more complicated symptoms like dementia, tremor, psychosis, paranoia, mania and disorientation. When niacin deficiency affects the central nervous system, these symptoms occur.

  • Defective Gastrointestinal Tract

Niacin has been linked to gastrointestinal problems such as the pharynx and oesophagus. If you begin to feel a burning sensation along the guts, chances are your body has insufficient amount Vitamin B3.

Also, you may feel pain or discomfort in your abdomen, nausea, constipation, diarrhea and vomiting. This means your body lacks enough Niacin.

Some people may notice blood in their stool. This can be linked to ulceration of the bowel.

  • Glossitis

Glossitis also known as inflammation of the tongue is also a symptom of deficiency of this vital vitamin in the body.

People who are deficient in Niacin may notice deep red or discolored tongue. Ulcer, starting from the tongue, gradually spreads throughout the mouth and causes pain.

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A case of severe Vitamin B3 deficiency can result in stomatitis . This is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of mouth that disrupts from eating, talking and sleeping.

This can affect any part of the mouth including the inside of the cheeks, tongue, lips, gums, and palate.

Types of stomatitis include;

  1. Canker sore

Canker sore is also known as an aphthous ulcer. It is a single pale or yellow ulcer that has a red outer ring or a cluster of such ulcers in the mouth.

  1. Cold sores

This is also known as fever blisters. They are fluid-filled sores that occur on or around the lips. Cold sores rarely form on the gums or the roof of the mouth.

Then they crust over with a scab. You may feel tingling, tenderness, or burning before the actual sores form.

  1. Mouth Irritation

Mouth irritation can occur when you bite your cheek, tongue or your lip. It can also occur when you wear braces or another type of dental apparatus, chew tobacco, burn your mouth from hot food or drinks, if have gum disease (gingivitis) or other type of mouth infection.


Niacin deficiency is diagnosed through clinical evaluation. The diagnosis may be straightforward if the clinical picture of the deficiency is evident.

However, the clinical presentation may not be specific. When you notice these symptoms and report to your health care provider, a diagnosis will be performed immediately.

It is important that you see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms, as only a professional can differentiate between Niacin deficiency and another similar problem.

For instance, the symptoms affecting the central nervous system may also be a sign of thiamin deficiency

It may be quite difficult to differentiate between the symptoms however. Laboratory tests can help to confirm the diagnosis, especially if seems unclear. A urine test may also be carried out to determine the deficiency of this vitamin.


A balanced diet should supply the adequate amount of Niacin to the body. So how much niacin should you take to correct the deficiency and restore it?

If you are deficient in this vitamin, a recommended daily dose will work well for you.

The recommended daily allowance to treat niacin deficiency is 16 milligrams per day for women and 14 milligrams daily for men.

You should include in your diet niacin rich foods such as red meat, poultry meat, cereals, fortified bread, fruits and fish.

See your doctor to check if you have an underlying medical condition that disturbs the absorption of Niacin in your body. You can take Niacin supplements such as NiacinMAX pills.

High doses of over-the-counter niacin or vitamin B3 can be taken to care of cholesterol (even high triglycerides ). On the other hand, this should be done under the supervision of a doctor.

Recommended daily allowance of niacin

Daily recommendations allowance for niacin is different for individuals. 2mg is recommended for infants from birth to 6 months, 4mg for infants 7 months to a year.

For children of ages 1-3 years, 6mg is recommended and 8mg for children from 4-8 years. 12 mg is recommended for children 9-13 years. For boys ages 14 -18 years 16mg is recommended and 14mg for girls ages 11-18 years old.

Adults recommended dosage is 16mg for men and 14mg for women. Daily dosage for pregnant women is 18mg and daily dosage for breastfeeding women is 17mg.

Generally, higher doses of niacin are usually recommended by doctors to treat specific diseases and deficiency.


Deficiency of any vitamin whatsoever is best avoided because of the diseases it could lead to, worse is, it can be life threatening.

It is important not to self-diagnose the deficiency of Niacin, because some vitamins can be toxic to the body system if taken wrongly, so you should your doctor or dietician for advice.

You can prevent Niacin deficiency by consuming foods rich in niacin or taking Niacin supplements with caution because some severe side effects that can occur with over dosage, which includes liver damage.

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